Rainforest Action Network Busts Major Companies For Buying Palm Oil From Illegal Plantations
Several major American companies have been implicated in the destruction of rainforest in Indonesia after the Rainforest Action Network caught them purchasing palm oil from illegal plantations engaged in deforestation.
The Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve in Indonesia is home to one of the densest populations of Sumatran Orangutans anywhere on Earth, and they play a major role in the ecosystem, so important, that the government created the reserve to protect them.
Yet, people looking to make a quick buck encroach upon the forest by cutting down trees to establish illegal palm oil plantations, which then sells the oil to big agriculture companies who go on to sell it around the globe.
Golden Agri-Resources and Musim Mas Group are two such agriculture companies that claim to know where their palm oil comes from. The problem is that the U.S.-based Rainforest Action Network (RAN) carried out an investigation and busted these companies for selling palm oil sourced from illegal plantations. And several American brands have been implicated for buying it, including Nestle, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars and the Hershey Co.
According to the RAN report:
The brands named here have been found purchasing palm oil from multiple mills that have continued to source palm oil resulting from the illegal clearing of lowland rainforests within the nationally protected Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve. These mills are located immediately next to areas of illegal encroachment into the Leuser Ecosystem and lack the necessary procedures to trace the location where the palm oil they sell is grown, a key requirement for complying with the No Deforestation, No Peatlands, No Exploitation (NDPE) policies all of these brands have publicly committed to.
Of course, Golden Agri-Resources denied RAN’s investigative findings.
While the company denied deforestation by referring to the findings of field investigations in 2017 and 2018 outside the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve in the Singkil-Bengkung region, it did not comment on non-compliant suppliers within the nationally protected area or confirm its intention to instigate the results of RAN’s investigation.
So, RAN is putting pressure on major companies around the world to stop purchasing palm oil from Golden Agri-Resources and Musim Mas until the illegal plantations are shut down and more is done to prevent other illegal plantations from being developed.
The authors of this report are demanding that companies caught contributing to this destruction stop buying palm oil sourced from the rogue mills identified here, or financing the culprits processing and shipping illegal palm oil to the global market, until transparent and verifiable monitoring, traceability and compliance systems are established to ensure they are only sourcing truly responsible palm oil.
“Effective immediately, the food companies and traders need to suspend sourcing from these mills that we have exposed,” RAN forest policy director Gemma Tillack said in a statement to Reuters.”These mills are located on the doorstep of this reserve. It is very clear that they are at high risk of sourcing illegal palm oil.”
If these companies do not act, the orangutan and several other vulnerable species are at risk of becoming extinct.
And these companies certainly have the power and money to act. Accountability must be practiced, especially since these same companies had vowed to only buy palm oil from legal sustainable sources. If they can’t keep their word, then the time has come for consumers to spend their money elsewhere.
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